Hey girls. I want to hear YOUR stories! I couldn't be everywhere at once, so I want to hear what you thought of the cruise. What were your favorite moments? What did you like? What didn't you like? I want to post your reviews and I'm starting off with my friend, Kristen.
Kristen is a good friend of mine and has been a fan for over 15 years now! She is an AJ girl from British Columbia, Canada. She's also a big country music fan and in her free time outside of the Backstreet Boys she enjoys cinematic adventures, an epic love story, and her adorable pup. Without further ado, here's Kristen's experiences on SS Backstreet 2011!
Laura graciously asked me to write about my experience as a first time cruiser. The trip included many firsts for me, and feels like one big whirlwind. I think I’ll try to filter through and hopefully put it all together. This is my first blog entry, so please be kind.
The magic started with a trip to Orlando, FL. My first time in Florida, and my first time at Universal Studios. We bought a single park pass because we had a matter of hours to conquer Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Our main target was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We dined at Three Broomsticks and guzzled butterbeer. After tackling the Dragon Challenge and getting horribly ill on the Forbidden Journey, we explored the rest of Islands of Adventure. I spent a small fortune, then enjoyed an amusing meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. We had a shuttle to catch at 7pm, so we headed back to the hotel then climbed aboard the Florida Express. A not-so-quick 4 hour bus ride and we were in Miami, FL!
Driving into Miami, FL in the middle of the night is beautiful. Something I’ll never forget, however I was without my camera. The next morning, we were off to explore the streets of Miami – camera in hand! We had delicious breakfast at a cute café, the Front Porch Café and then walked for hours. We did some shopping and sightseeing, and then walked along the beach. It was beautiful. After a romp in the water and sand, we had an early dinner at Big Pink. The amount of food was insane! On the walk home, I was inclined to stop in at Dash and then admire Miami Ink from across the street. Then it was off to the hotel to prepare for the Backstreet Boys at CAMEO.
I’ll be honest, I was a ball of nerves. I am not keen on nightclubs, and it would only be my third time meeting the boys. Yes, meeting the boys. A friend of mine and I were lucky enough to get our hands on two VIP upgrades. We went early, waited in line, and at the bar for at least a couple of hours because as usual, we were on Backstreet time – not real time. I am not the most patient individual, so waiting is not easy for me. There is a lot of waiting involved when you’re a fan of those boys. I believe the VIP event was suppose to begin at 9pm. A friend of mine walking to CAMEO for general admission saw Nick and Howie arriving just before 10pm. Kind of annoying, but to be expected. Nonetheless, having my picture taken with those four gentlemen is always incredible and I love the way this one turned out. Justin never disappoints!
All was right in the world as soon as AJ McLean hit that stripper pole. If I had a list of top five moments from the trip, AJ’s striptease easily cracked the top three. After the excitement of Mr. McLean swinging around that pole and removing his shirt to ‘I’m Sexy & I Know It’, we moved around the club. At one point, we were stationed near the DJ booth. A friend of mine was frantically taking photos of Nick. She was sort of in the way, and someone was trying to squeeze by. That someone was Howie D! We were standing there stunned, and she didn’t even notice! Howie sweetly wrapped his arm around her and squeezed by. Not once did she noticed it was Howie, I suppose Nick has that affect on some ladies. It was worth a good laugh afterwards. I left the club earlier than most, and after seeing the video of AJ’s and Nick’s sing-off I am definitely kicking myself. Even so, I had a blast and was ready to board the SS Backstreet.
We woke up early and headed to the Port of Miami. Again I’ll be honest with you, I was starting to get nervous. I had never been on a cruise ship before, nevermind a cruise ship with my four favourite men (and roughly 1,700 other fans). After the check-in process, we positioned ourselves near the VIP Check-In. We are all smart girls, we all knew who was in there. Security started to get thick, and barricades were being made of benches of chairs so my friends and I stationed ourselves up against one of the barricades. Moments later out came the men of the hour! Total excitement set in, it was all about to begin...
Once onboard, we went to have lunch. I was starving, so I was looking forward to it. And true to form, there was Brian! A mere four tables away from us. I was forced to phone home and brag immediately. We made our way to our room, which wasn’t clean but we plopped our stuff down and went to look around. I don’t think I was at all prepared for what was about to take place at the Sail Away Party. It was definitely a good warm up for what would take place at future deck parties. I was all smiles when those four boys joined us, and I finally realized that I was officially stuck on a giant boat with them. Then the boat started rocking...
I went into this vacation knowing that I was prone to motion sickness. I had plenty of Gravol with me! However, seasickness is a whole new ball game. As soon as that boat started rocking, I was out of commission. That night was the worst. Before the In It to Win It game, I decided to lay down and try to sleep it off. Didn’t work. I missed the game show. I tried to eat some dinner, but one piece of watermelon and some vanilla ice cream later and I was still a walking zombie. I had no choice but to lay back down. By the time the deck party rolled around, I was horribly ill and miss it all together. I was a bit of a baby about the fact, and I was terrified the whole trip would be that way...
The next morning the sun rose, and I told myself I had no choice but to pull myself together and get off that boat. I grabbed my camera and a ginger ale and headed to the buses. Somehow we were one of the first groups to arrive at the beautiful resort. We saw a small group starting to form around the stage, so we joined them. Nearly three hours later and a few attempts to nourish ourselves with food or water, the boys finally arrived! Those beads they were throwing, I’ll have to thank my friend for snagging me some. I nearly went ballistic when they introduced Kevin. He’s never been a favourite of mine. (I’ve been an AJ girl since day one). Back to my top five list, hearing Kevin sing Safest Place to Hide with AJ, Nick, Brian and Howie is in my top three. I started to wander during the games. It was my first time in the Bahamas, and I wanted to take in the scenery. While snapping some photos of the area by the water, Nick Carter went soaring by me. Watching him splash around was amusing – I thought the poor guy was going to drown! I was content watching the boys jet-ski or play volleyball. After a nice sun burn, it was back to the boat to prepare for the concert.
As far as a list of my top five moments go, the concert came in at number one! I don’t even know where begin. Those gorgeous boys sang every song I had been dying to hear, and I loved the manner in which it was done. The unplugged, rawness of the show made it one not to be missed! And I am glad I didn’t. Helpless When She Smiles and If I Knew Then are two of my favourite songs. You’d think that Nick forgetting the words to If I Knew Then would have bothered me, but it didn’t! I can hear the song sang perfectly on the CD. Watching the blushing Nick Carter stumble was just for us. The solo performances were perfect. Brian brought tears to my eyes, Howie made me fall in love with him and Nick had me dancing. Being an AJ girl, one could guess what my favourite performance was. London was remarkable! Like every girl in the lounge, I lost my mind when they sang If You Want It To Be Good Girl. I don’t care what AJ or Brian say, that song is a show stopper. I knew it was only a matter of time before Kevin graced us with his presence, and the encore performance of Drowning was astonishing. An ideal ending to a flawless evening.
Then it was time for Prom Night. That wind did not make it easy to wear a short dress! I decided to perch myself on the upper deck, up against the railing. It’s not easy to take photos when there’s a mob of girls trying to get an inch or two closer to the hand of Nick or AJ. The boys did look handsome in their oddly colored suits. It was a treat to hear Kevin sing again, especially since I Still... is also one of my favourite songs. The prom dates and dances was entertaining to watch, but being so seasick the day before had taken it out of me so I decided to head to bed.
I had gone to the medical clinic to hopefully ease my seasickness, and luckily for $3 I got some miracle drug. One pill lasted twelve hours, so at 6am I took the first one and just before I took the second. Seasickness gone! I owe my life to those two little pills. Anyway, the next morning it was the long awaited photo session. The one time you were guaranteed interaction with the boys. Now I am not big into fashion, so I wasn’t sure what I wanted to wear. Spending too much time in our small room, I started to fill ill so I wanted to be quick. With the help of my roommates I decided to wear the shirt I had made for 80’s Night. Dressed in my Sphynkter shirt, we headed to the photo session. We were fairly organized, so everything went smoothly for us. My homemade Sphynkter shirt paid off. AJ, who I was standing by, noticed it immediately which resulted in the longest conversation I have ever had with one of the boys. I was thrilled.
After the photo, it was time for karaoke. My beautiful roommate had entered herself, and was chosen as one of the girls who may get to sing with the boys. She broke the news to me that I was going with her. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not built to sing infront of thousands of people. Needless to say, I was praying our song wouldn’t be chosen. We dodged that bullet, and just got to enjoy the show from up top.
One of my top five moments came right before karaoke began. That brave young girl who was in for the fight of her life had me in tears. I am so glad that she got to share that moment with those four special men. From the bottom of my heart, I want to wish her all the strength in the world and nothing but the best.
Next up on the agenda was PDA Pajama Jam. We had some time to kill before the actual event (which would be moved inside due to the weather). I love being in my PJs, so I wasted no time hoping into my slippers. We enjoyed one last dinner together, packed up our stuff and then headed to the party. I wasn’t looking forward to having it indoors, but it actually worked out well. I’d even say I preferred it in that area. I am sure everyone was on the verge of exhaustion by now, especially the boys and their security. Regardless, the boys were all smiles and ready to party. In my opinion, this was the most entertaining evening. Brian was a riot, and crowd surfed right over to me! Nick and AJ were braved soldiers with their dares, and Howie looked so silly! In all honesty, I am a bit envious of those girls who experienced that candid moment with Nick and AJ. An unforgettable moment, I am sure. I enjoyed my time at that last deck party. It was the cherry on top of an already unbelievable sundae.
My brain feels jumbled from trying to remember all the details that I’d like to share. I think the best way to describe the experience is a whirlwind. The pictures and memories will last forever, and I am hoping the friendships I made will too. My roommates – Brandy and Char – I wouldn’t have wanted to share that tiny little space with anyone but you. Cortney, I am so thankful that I met you. Not only for all your preparation during our stay in Miami, but for your sweet & shining personality. I hope I see you girls soon! And if not, I’ll see you onboard the SS Backstreet in 2013!